Law in Oxford
The Faculty of Law in the University of Oxford is one of the largest in the United Kingdom. It is a federation of thirty law schools in the colleges of the University. Legal scholars in the colleges and University are members of the Faculty, which coordinates and supports the teaching and writing of one hundred fifty three academics. We admit and support and teach and examine a diverse and outstanding body of students from all parts of the British Isles and from all over the world. Our student-to-faculty ratio is approximately 7:1.
Oxford is different from any other law school.
- Students for the BA in Jurisprudence are typically taught in pair tutorials. A tutorial is an exercise for which the student writes an essay, so that the focus of the meeting is on the student's own work on the subject.
- We have the only graduate degrees in the world that are taught in tutorials as well as in classes (the BCL, MJur, and the new Master's in Law and Finance).
- We have the largest doctoral programme in Law in the English-speaking world.
Law undergraduates comment on law in Oxford
Noura Abdul Cader
A surprisingly young law school
We are part of an 800-year heritage of the study of law. There were thriving faculties of Civil Law and Canon Law in the medieval University. At the Reformation, Henry VIII prohibited the teaching of Canon Law, and law in Oxford became Civil Law. In October 1758, William Blackstone, the first Vinerian Professor of English Law, inaugurated the study of the English common law in the University with his first lectures, which formed the basis for his Commentaries on the Laws of England. But it was not until the 1870s that Oxford offered a degree in English law (the BA in Jurisprudence). In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were prominent professors in Oxford such as Frederick Pollock, William Anson, and Albert Dicey. But the University became a powerful centre for the study of law only when the colleges began to compete with each other to recruit outstanding legal scholars as tutorial fellows, after World War II (as a result of the ‘Common University Fund’ scheme, which provided University lecturerships to distinguished tutors).
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Oxford law school flourished through the operation of the resulting internal market –and through the brilliance of particular leading scholars such as H.L.A.Hart, Rupert Cross, Tony Honoré, John Morris, Peter Carter, and others. By the 1970s, Oxford had become the world’s leading centre for graduate study in law. The BCL became the most highly regarded taught postgraduate degree, and doctoral research expanded greatly – particularly in international law, in comparative law, and in legal philosophy (in which Oxford had become the leading university in the world).
So Oxford today has a young law school with a remarkable and highly international legal community, roughly half of the Faculty having studied in other countries. Our undergraduate students are 85% British and 15% overseas, and the proportions are roughly the reverse among our graduate students.
Our aim is to support those faculty members and students in understanding the law. We are an English law school for the whole world.
Dean of the Faculty